The Malawi government will on Tuesday October 15, 2019 officially launch the 2019-2020 Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (FISP) as Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa will preside over the event, which will be held in Migowi, Phalombe.
Briefing reporters at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre on Monday on the FISP implementation arrangements progress and our state preparedness for the season, Nankhumwa said his ministry had devised tough measures to safeguard the programme against any form of abuse or fraud such as selling and buying coupons, selling of counterfeit seeds or fertilizers and failure to operate in agreed locations.
Some quarters have faulted FISP as a serious drain on the already strained resources as big fertilizer companies and politicians allegedly abuse the programme for their own enrichment at the expense of the deserving beneficiaries.
According to Nankhumwa, government would be implementing a reformed and better FISP than before for the farmers’ and national benefit and progress in agriculture and socio-economic development.
“Let us all be on the lookout to monitor the programme implementation and reporting any form of malpractices in the programme. My Ministry will not shield any stakeholder involved in any malpractices.
“We have set up a toll free number 60606 under Airtel that farmers and the general public are encouraged to use to report any malpractice observed or experienced regarding the programme this season,” explained the minister.
Nankhumwa said although they are still using coupons this season, government is “swiftly reforming” the criteria for improved efficiency.
“The reforms follow government’s own experiences with the coupon system for FISP and recommendations by different stakeholders on the programme. We have worked very hard this year to improve coupon features to ensure security of the coupons and eliminate chances of cheating by fortune seekers in the programme. The coupons to be used this year are highly protected with zero chances of fraud or theft,” he explained.
The minister said government wishes to reform the programme by implementing the paperless coupon following recommendations made by various stakeholders.
“The Ministry has engaged a team of Information Technology (IT) experts from the Ministry and the National Registration Bureau (NRB) to work on paperless coupon system for the purpose of improving programme security and achieving efficiency. The design is ready for pretesting purposes this season. Full implementation of the reformed system will be done in 2020/2021 season after ironing out possible challenges that may be experienced based on the pretest this season,” said the minister.
According to Nankhumwa, who was accompanied PS for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Gray Nyandule-Phiri and other high-ranking Directors in the ministry, this year the government has made special arrangements for farmers to benefit more from the programme than before. Special consideration has been made for farmer seed top up, he said.
“This is because as government we want farmers to get seed almost for free this year so that we gain on fertilizer use efficiency. This is because the cost of seed affects fertilizer use efficiency with use of poor seed. For instance, when seed is very expensive, farmers end up using unimproved seed or even recycling the poor quality seed.
“This practice leads to loss of crop productivity since returns are relatively low because poor crop seed has low yield potential therefore no maximum benefits from fertilizers applied compared to hybrids or open pollinated varieties that high relatively high yield potential,’ he said.
According to Nankhumwa, government has awarded contracts to 57 private suppliers plus two Public Institutions, ADMARC and SFFRFM, making a total of 59.
“The total number of beneficiaries will be 900, 000. Beneficiaries are fulltime smallholder Malawian farmers of different gender categories from all the 28 districts in Malawi. Beneficiaries will be identified by local leaders in each village with support of other opinion leaders,” he said.
Government conceptualized FISP to attain both household and national food self-sufficiency by enabling smallholder farmers’ access improved farm inputs that include seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, and extension services.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :